Tag Archives: production

Two Screenings and a Sendoff for Paat

One value we tout highly at DCIFF is helping our films live past the festival. In the past two months, we have been fortunate to partner with BloomBars in Columbia Heights to rescreen Paat twice. If you haven’t had the privilege of seeing the film yet, Iranian director Amir Toodehroosta’s feature film debut is not to be missed. Paat follows the titular character, a charismatic canine with a three-foot view of society’s discretions.

Both screenings drew intimate crowds followed by highly engaged discussions led by Executive Director Deirdre Evans-Pritchard. While it is nearly impossible for Toodehroosta to receive a travel visa to the US, the filmmaker preemptively sent his own Q&A prior to the screening, providing excellent background and color to the discussions.

paat 2For example: to some it is general knowledge that in the Islamic world dogs are considered unclean and to call someone a dog is one of the worst insults. It may come as no surprise that it is actually illegal to keep dogs as pets in many Islamic countries. A unique cultural aspect to keep in mind while watching the film is keeping a dog as a form of rebellion or as Toodehroosta said in his Q&A, “dogs are at a loss between tradition and modernity.” Toodehroosta intelligently uses his film to make this point by juxtaposing human behavior with Paat, “Which is really impure? The dog or some humans around us?”

paat 3During filming, Toodehroosta faced several issues. “Some producers, as soon as they were informed of the film’s theme, refused to invest because they were afraid the film might be banned.” This fear led Toodehroosta to even keep his actors in the dark about the film’s duration which he originally told them was going to be a short “because we didn’t want them to have to stress for a feature.” They were informed the day before filming.

Unsurprisingly, the film was banned in Iran so many of Toodehroosta’s own countrymen haven’t seen the film and it is difficult for him to tour the film. Here at DCIFF, we were glad to do our little part. We look forward to seeing Paat prosper on the festival circuit and wish Amir the best in his career moving forward.

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A Brief Glimpse at Tax Incentives

A few weeks back, the Washington Post Express featured an article about a WAMU study, highlighting DC faltering film incentives program. It stated for every dollar the DC government spent to lure film productions to our nation’s capital, it lost 77 cents. Most backlash was due to the 2010 flop How Do You Know, leaving DC’s film incentives program unfunded since 2011.

“You hear a lot of doom and gloom around film incentives programs. There’s a lot of pressure because these programs are easy targets when budgets get tight. The real story, though, is that most states are continuing as is or even better,” stated Michael McCann, principal at the Film Incentives Group in Philadelphia.

Michael, David Bowers, a CPA also at Film Incentives Group, and Steve Biznow of Media Services co-hosted a panel at the Navy Memorial on “Film Incentives & Software Tools for Film & TV Producers.” The event focused around the basics of tax incentives and the state of different programs around the country.

If you are beginning to pull together your production budget, Michael and David said, one of the first things you need to do is research state film incentives. Every state has different laws regarding casting, payroll, transferable credits, etc. The Film Incentives Group offers a free online film incentives guide and free consultations for filmmakers to help them decide which states might be the best fit for their budgets or needs. For example, Louisiana offers a 30% credit but the minimum spend is $300,000, compared to Massachusetts at 25% and $50,000 minimum.

On the bright side, it turns out Michael is right about the doom and gloom, too. In a follow-up to the WAMU study, ECONorthwest found that DC isn’t performing as poorly as previously reported. DC earns 44 cents for every dollar and the $1.8 million loss from How Do You Know is an anomaly, not a consistency.  DC film incentives should be “scaled, competitive with those offered by other jurisdictions, a mix of cash and non-cash, and targeted to productions with story lines set in D.C.” Hopefully, these studies will help refocus and refund the film incentives program in DC in the future.